Proteas star batsmen and captain AB de Villiers was at the Wanderers Stadium recently to launch his new book, AB: The Autobiography.
De Villiers scored the fastest century ever in one day international history at The Wanderers, so it was a fitting venue to launch his autobiography. He regaled the audience with tales of his boyhood and the different stages of his cricket career before his rise to stardom and prominence with the Proteas.
There were times De Villiers didn’t know if his career would pan out, he said at the night.
“I always believed that I was destined for something great,” he said, but admitted doubts arose from him playing in the second team. Speaking of the transition from school to international cricket, De Villiers said: “When I left school it was all very confusing.”
So confusing that De Villiers, who for a while studied Sport Science, spoke of the “drop zone” – a zone where there was “lots of beer … friends” and him driving in his mother’s blue Jetta, thinking he was “the coolest guy in the world”.
Before he knew it, “six months were gone”, with De Villiers not knowing what he was doing with his life.
At this stage De Villiers was still playing cricket for the second team. However, by taking his chances and utilising the opportunities he got, it wasn’t long he was playing for the first team.
These are some of the stages De Villiers documents in his book. Ex-cricketer and now commentator Mpumelelo Mbangwa, who was in conversation with the star batsman, asked De Villiers about his state of mind ahead of his international debut for the Proteas in a Test match in 2004.
“It was a bit crazy, playing with legends of the game like Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher,” De Villiers said, adding that life in the national team was always a challenge.
Having played just a few first-class games, playing for the national team was a mental test, and it was a lean period for De Villiers, with runs hard to come by. The batsman said he felt lucky to be playing in the first team considering his poor record at the time.
De Villiers also spoke of the senior players who sternly advised him to step up his batting performance. “I was almost a servant, in my first year. I didn’t feel like I belonged performance-wise,” he said.
De Villiers has gone on to play 98 consecutive Tests for the Proteas since his debut – a feat no other Test cricketer has achieved ever.
Speaking of his strategy, De Villiers said: “I go with my instincts at times. I do gamble at times, like most of other captains.” He added that a team of analysts and other professionals were always at hand to assist.
Fear of failure makes him nervous, he said. But he has managed to turn that handicap into an advantage, saying: “The more nervous I am, the better I play.”
The next major tournament top on De Villiers’s mind is the 2019 Cricket World Cup. He hopes to lift the trophy with the Proteas.
Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the launch:
The event was photographed by Nicolise Harding – Photography & Design: